A new framework looks to quantum computing for help teaching AI to understand concepts

Ben Wodecki, Jr. Editor

February 19, 2024

3 Min Read
Quantum computer image
Getty Images

At a Glance

  • Quantum computing firm Quantinuum created a framework designed to improve how AIs learn.

AI systems that can understand the world instead of merely predicting the next word or code is the dream of many AI researchers.

A group of quantum computing scientists developed a new approach that brings the dream a step closer: They developed a framework that enables machines to learn the way humans do.

A new paper from the team at Quantinuum describes the framework, which lets AI systems learn concepts like shape and color. Not only can the machine look at an image and recognize it, but it also actually understands the meaning of the object.

They developed the Compositional Quantum Framework, which is designed to structure and learn concepts automatically from data through both classical and quantum computing approaches.

Using a type of math called “category theory” that utilizes graphical calculus to represent objects and morphisms, objects are depicted as labeled wires, and morphisms as boxes connecting these wires, allowing for a visual and intuitive understanding of complex operations.

In simple terms, the researchers essentially merged insights from quantum computing with cognitive science concepts to create a framework that provides a mathematical structure to allow an AI system to visualize an action.

Quantinuum applied the concept to image recognition, demonstrating that concepts like shape, color, size and position can be taught to machines that are trained on images of shapes.

Related:Meta’s Yann LeCun Wants to Ditch Generative AI

Quantinuum’s framework breaks concepts down into simpler parts so the system can see how they relate and interact with each other – like a detailed map of sorts.

By improving a machine’s ability to understand an action or concept, the team at Quantinuum hopes the research will contribute towards advancing AI systems that not only predict but also understand.

Beyond the black box

Top minds in the AI field want to push past generative AI to create more powerful systems. Recently, Meta’s Yann LeCun gave a speech where he said generative AI should be abandoned with the focus on creating systems that understand the world around them.

The research team at Quantinuum also want to achieve this goal – but for the purpose of accountability. They argue that current large language models are essentially black boxes with users unable to examine their underlying workings.

“In the current environment with accountability and transparency being talked about in artificial intelligence, we have a body of research that really matters, and which will fundamentally affect the next generation of AI systems. This will happen sooner than many anticipate” said Ilyas Khan, Quantinuum’s founder.

Related:Research Aims to Make Quantum Artificial Intelligence More Human

Quantinuum, while largely a quantum computing company, has a deep history of conducting AI-related research. This latest effort focuses on interpretability of AI systems with the firm hoping help safety efforts.

“AI has the power to cause serious harm alongside immense good. It is critical that users understand why a system is making the decisions it does. When we read and hear about ‘safety concerns’ with AI systems, interpretability and accountability are key issues,” a company blog post reads.

Quantinuum’s framework can run on classical computers and quantum machines, with the paper saying the latter systems are more naturally suited for addressing concepts like category theory.

It is still early days for the Compositional Quantum Framework, with the team behind it saying it needs “substantial further work” to demonstrate that it can be used in applications like AI agents.

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Jr. Editor

Ben Wodecki is the Jr. Editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to Jr. Editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others. He holds an MSc in Digital Journalism from Middlesex University.

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